So many opportunities have come my way since being diagnosed with dementia. It was a very lonely place to begin with, people abandoning you, not knowing where to turn or what to do. But the glass half full person in me wasn’t ready to give up on myself and I went about looking at how I could share my diagnosis for the good of others. It didn’t come easy in the beginning. No one knew me, people didn’t see what I could bring to the table. But I kept banging on doors and now thankfully, on many occasions, people bang on my door.
It’s lovely to get requests to speak in different environments to different professionals. So it’s that very scenario that saw me trundling up to Stirling University on Tuesday…….a very long journey, yes, but wonderful views and they’d kindly offered to accommodate me for 2 nights so I wouldn’t have the long journey back after speaking.
It’s times like this when I wish I could drive again as it would be lovely to explore all the wonderful places I’m invited to but sad that I can only venture a little way in a straight line so I can find my way back! But I still saw some beautiful scenery.
And so it was yesterday that I had the pleasure of speaking to students on their Masters in Dementia Studies course.. The course is aimed at practitioners who work in the field and wish to develop their skills and knowledge of dementia care and support. It’s a distance learning course but at the beginning of each semester they hold a campus introductory day and invite any students who are able to attend. Richard Ward, the Course Director had invited me ages ago after telling me my book was on the core reading list for the course and set text for the second year module☺️
The students come from a diverse range of backgrounds including hospitals, care homes, community-based services and day care to name a few.
After the wonderful trundle and beautiful views of Tuesday, I had a very restless night and woke up with a banging head and painful face. My Fitbit confirmed my feeling of a bad night. The thin red lines showing my wake, sleep, wake sleep ……
I checked my tablet box but I had taken my jaw tablets so goodness knows why. I’d also forgotten, what I call, my head tablets – these just help me calm a banging head but they must be in my little suitcase🙈🔫
Really didn’t feel on top form, but as is often on these days, I’ll walk into a roomful of smiley faces and all will be well in the world. Fingers crossed.
Twitter had been lovely with lots of messages from students who will be there.
I wasn’t being picked up until lunchtime so I took the opportunity to walk round the Loch and get more piccies. I knew my favourite species, Students, would redirect me if I got lost and the ones that walked by were all smiley so I knew I’d be in safe hands.
The views were stunning……
Anyway, back to the reason I was there! Grant came to pick me up at the agreed time and we walked to the Iris Murdoch centre a short walk away.
We arrived to find everyone having stopped for lunch, so a cuppa tea appeared and I was happy. Sooo many lovely Twitter friends came and said hello, but I wasn’t typing 🙈 so can’t remember their names.
Richard, the course director introduced himself and we sat with cuppa teas appearing out of nowhere😊 Because I wasn’t typing, I havn’t a clue what we chatted about but I just remember lots of lovely people and smiley faces.
After lunch was finished it was my turn. I spoke for about 50 minutes (Ithink!🙄) about this that and everything. It included this bit on allowing us to live not exist:
“Which brings me onto positive risk taking…..so often for the kindest of reason people wrap us in cotton wool. We become labelled as a ‘vulnerable adult’. I recently saw my medical history and on the 17th May 2018 I became a vulnerable adult. Goodness knows what happened on that day but it’s there in black and white. Maybe it was the day I did a Firewalk for my local hospice or went up in a glider which was a birthday present from my daughters….goodness knows what I’ll be labelled on the 9th March this year as that’s when I hope to do a Skydive for Young Dementia UK”
There was time for a few questions at the end. It seemed to go down well from the lovely comments afterwards. They recorded the talk, which is always nice. In return they all allowed me to have a piccie with them outside with the hills in the background.…
Before I finally left they asked if they could film me answering some question for a 2 minute clip upstairs. So after waving goodbye to all the smiley faces we trundled upstairs and recorded a short clip – again, havn’t a clue what about but I remember we laughed a lot in the process 😂. And it gave another opportunity for a piccie in a mock up of a living room…..
Someone lovely walked me back to the hotel where I’m typing this before the memory disappears. What a wonderful afternoon with amazing people. Exhausted but the smiley faces sorted out my pain…..Thank you Stirling😊